for this game

Lightning shoot for sweep of top-seeded Caps

May 4, 2011 - 2:59 PM (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Lightning will try to eliminate the top- seeded Washington Capitals tonight when they host Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at St. Pete Times Forum.

The fifth-seeded Lightning, who finished four points behind Washington for the Southeast Division title this season, have taken the first three games of this best-of-seven series to move within one victory of its second-ever trip to the conference finals.

After Tampa recorded wins in Games 1 and 2 in D.C., the Lightning grabbed a commanding 3-0 lead in the series with Tuesday's victory at the Forum. Steven Stamkos and Ryan Malone scored in a 24-second span early in the third period as Tampa Bay topped Washington, 4-3, in Game 3.

Vincent Lecavalier and Sean Bergenheim also tallied for the Lightning, whose only other trip to the East finals was in 2004 when they won the franchise's first and only Stanley Cup title.

"This team is a good team. It's going to be hard to win four games, so we're happy about the result tonight and we just have to reload tomorrow," said Lightning forward Martin St. Louis.

Dwayne Roloson stopped 29-of-32 shots to continue his stellar postseason for Tampa, which acquired the veteran backstop in a trade with the New York Islanders in January. The 41-year-old backstop is 7-3 with a 1.92 goals- against average and .943 save percentage in these playoffs.

Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble and John Carlson scored in the loss for the Capitals, who have not been swept since losing the 1998 Cup Finals to Detroit. That was also the last year Washington made it past the second round of the playoffs.

Michal Neuvirth allowed four goals on 30 shots in defeat, as Washington carried a 3-2 edge into the third period, but coughed it up after allowing the quick goals to Stamkos and Malone.

"We weren't supposed to play safe. We knew they were going to come out in the third and we knew we had to keep pushing and doing what we've done," lamented Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau.

Washington has never come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a series and Tampa Bay has never lost a set when in this situation.

Tampa Bay, which was 25-11-5 as the home club this year, will try to end the series tonight or it will have to travel to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday afternoon. The Bolts are 2-2 on home ice in this postseason.

Washington had a strong 23-15-3 record as the guest during the regular season, but the Caps are 1-2 as the visiting team in this year's playoffs.

Ovechkin, Washington's captain and best player, is dangerously close to yet another playoff disappointment. He has five goals and four assists in eight playoff games this season and 49 points (25 goals, 24 assists) in 36 career postseason outings, but the sniper has never been past the second round.

The Lightning have played the last two games without forward Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina, who both suffered head injuries in the opening game of this series. Both players are doubtful for tonight.

Washington defenseman Mike Green suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 and is questionable for tonight's contest. Green has six points on one goal and five assists in the playoffs this year.

This marks just the second playoff series between the Caps and Lightning. The only other time these teams have met in the postseason was in the 2003 conference quarterfinals and the Lightning won that series in six games.